Two units of CRS riot police officers had been mobilised on Tuesday morning to evict migrants from a camp near Dunkirk in northern France they had illegally erected.
The officers were unpleasantly surprised in the evening to find that they had been booked in the same hotel, the Première Classe de Rouvignies, as the illegals they had just cleared out of the Puythouck woods near the town of Grande-Synthe.
UNSA union spokesman Christophe Canon told La Voix du Nord: “Obviously it was an untenable situation for the CRS. We had to step up and find a new hotel for our colleagues.”
The 22 riot police had to find accomodation elsewhere for the night, but the union representative said they were going to find out “who decided to book migrants into the same hotel as the CRS”.
Canon added ironically: “If we’d known, we could have escorted the migrants directly to the hotel, rather than charter private buses to take them. It’s the first time this has happened,” he told France Info.
The complaint comes as thousands of riot cops called in sick on Thursday to protest strenuous working conditions and insufficient pay, in mass demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron’s labour reforms. Authorities feared street protests would once again turn violent.
On Thursday between some 3 000 French riot police took sick leave to protest over bad working conditions, as well as the government’s drive to tax their transfer compensation.
Some 40 companies of CRS riot police officers out of a total of 60 countrywide did not turn up to work on Thursday. The Alliance Union said the police officers need to visit doctors due to work-related health problems.
Fresh labour protests were staged on Thursday against an overhaul proposed by President Emmanuel Macron days before his labour reforms are expected to enter into force.
The marches and strikes come a week after some 200 000 marchers according to police, demonstrated against the measures in the first major challenge to Macron since he was elected in May.
More rallies are expected Saturday, staged by hard-left political party France Unbowed. “This is only the beginning,” said its leader, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who ended fourth in this year’s presidential elections.
Police said some 16 000 people protested in Paris on Thursday, compared to 24 000 the week before.